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The BP "B1 Bundle Ruling": Federal Statutory Displacement of General Maritime Law (Part II)

February 2014

Citation: 44 ELR 10108

Issue: 2

Author: John J. Costonis

Part I of this two-part study probed within the context of the 2010 BP Macondo Well blowout whether and to what extent the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) displaces general maritime law negligence tort remedies for private economic and property losses. unscathed. Part II’s province is twofold. It critiques the ruling’s “silence means approval” canon on the basis of a framework it constructs to illuminate otherwise indeterminate U.S. Supreme Court displacement jurisprudence and policy. It then turns to B1 Bundle’s reliance on the Supreme Court’s rulings in Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker and Atlantic Sounding Co. v. Townsend, exposing palpable inconsistencies— termed here “category errors”—that undermine the precedential force attributed to them by B1 Bundle.

John J. Costonis is Chancellor-Emeritus and Professor of Law, Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Louisiana State University.

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